Sunday, November 18, 2012

A Pack of Nobodies

I watched my last two White Light Festival events this week. On Wednesday LW and I watched "I went to the house but did not enter," a staged concert in three tableaux, at the Rose Theater. Conceived by German composer Heiner Goebbels, the production staged three modernist texts, T.S. Eliot's "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock," Maurice Blanchot's "The Madness of the Day," and Samuel Beckett's "Worstward Ho," with Kafka's short story "Excursion into the Mountains" functioning as an interlude between Blanchot and Beckett. The Hillard ensemble, a British early and modern music group, sang. Of the three tableaux, I found Blanchot most interesting. The fragmentation of self into "a pack of nobodies" (Kafka's phrase) was given dramatic and visual force by the isolation of the men in separate rooms of an ordinary-looking house. The gurgle of a washing machine, the siren of a passing ambulance, the clang of a dumpster lid punctuated the music with a ghastly wit.

Last night, at the Baryshnikov, TB and I watched Malavika Sarukkai perform in "The Spirit of the Body." The classical Indian dancer presented four dances of her own choreography, showing her versatility and skill. She was a forceful and precise dancer, more light than fire. Some of the lighting effects were unnecessarily theatrical, and detracted from the dancing. I thought the musicians were wonderful. I could hear Chitrambari Krishnakumar sing vocals for hours. Srilatha Shamshuddin played the nattuvangam, Balaji Azhwar the mridangam, Sai Shravanam Ramani the tabla, and Srilakshmi Venkataramani the violin.


David-Glen Smith said...

Did you like the productions of the modernists works?

My students are currently in the middle of "Prufrock"-- their handlings of the text is rather.... interesting, to say the least.

Jee Leong Koh said...

Only the Blanchot I like. The others I found boring. Or maybe I was just too tired at the end of the day.

My students loved "Prufrock" when I taught it. They went around reciting its lines.